I made amazing macaroni and cheese dish last night for an election party. It was a huge hit! I’ll admit it, there is nothing healthy about this recipe. It’s pretty unhealthy. But, it’s also very tasty. So next time you’re really craving some comfort food, this is definitely a good splurge.
(Okay, I tried to make it slightly healthier by substituting whole wheat penne for refined pasta–it turned out well. Also, on a whim, I added chopped spinach to the cheese sauce. You couldn’t really taste it, but it made me feel better seeing a bit of green in there.)
Baked macaroni and cheese
Pervaiz Shallwani, Associated Press [and my boyfriend]
1/2 cup unsalted butter, plus 2 tablespoons, divided
2 tablespoons salt, plus more to taste
1 pound elbow macaroni
1 tablespoon olive oil
31/2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Ground black pepper, to taste
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese, divided
2 cups grated Monterey Jack cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 cup panko or other coarse bread crumbs
Heat the oven to broil. Use 1 tablespoon of butter to generously coat a 3-quart casserole dish.
Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large stockpot. Add 2 tablespoons of salt, stir briefly, then add the pasta. Cook until tender and just past al dente, about 10 to 13 minutes, or slightly longer than package directions.
Drain the pasta, then transfer it to a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the pasta, then toss to coat. Set aside.
To make the sauce, in a small saucepan over low heat, bring the milk to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat.
medium saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/2 cup of the remaining butter, using a whisk to swirl it to ensure the butter melts completely and does not turn brown. If the butter begins to brown, lower the heat.While whisking, sprinkle in the flour. Continue to whisk until the mixture just bubbles, about 2 minutes. Do not let the mixture brown. While whisking, slowly pour in the milk. Continue whisking until there are no lumps.
Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce heat to low and season with salt and pepper. Continue whisking until the sauce reaches the consistency of heavy cream and coats the back of a spoon, about 2 minutes.
Remove the sauce from the heat. Whisk in 11/2 cups of the cheddar cheese, all of the Monterey Jack and 1/2 cup of the Parmesan. Whisk until the cheese is completely melted and the sauce is smooth.
Pour the sauce over the pasta and gently toss to coat. Transfer the pasta and sauce, using a rubber spatula to scrape the bowl, to the prepared casserole dish. Set aside.
In a small microwave-safe bowl, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter by microwaving on high for about 20 seconds. Add the bread crumbs and remaining cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Toss well.
Spread the bread crumb mixture evenly over the pasta. Place the dish on the oven’s middle rack and broil for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the edges are bubbly and a crunchy crust forms on top. Cool briefly before serving.